VA mobile devices to be primarily for clinicians, CIO says

The Veterans Affairs Department expects its mobile device rollout to accelerate in the second quarter once a mobile device management system is put into place, according to CIO Roger Baker.

The main targets for using tablet computers and other mobile devices at the VA are as many as 100,000 employees handling patient clinical information and veterans’ benefits who would use the devices for managing records while moving around units and facilities, Baker said in a conference call with reporters on Jan. 25.


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For example, a group of VA clinicians in the Washington, DC area are utilizing a new Apple application called Clinic in Hand to view patient records and add information. The application essentially is a version of an interface to the VA’s medical record system. Clinic in Hand is encrypted for security and no records are stored on the devices, Baker said.

By contrast, since VA began allowing mobile devices on its networks in October, there are only about 1,000 mobile devices currently in use on VA systems among VA administrators, Baker added. He said the rationale for allowing and supporting mobile device use was strongest in the clinical and benefits realms, more so than for administrators.

“The business case for general administration is not that strong,” Baker said. On the other hand, the business case for applications for the health and benefits specialists may support “upwards of 100,000 devices” at the VA, he added.

All of the smart phone and mobile device applications to be used would be encrypted. Some would be owned by the employees, Baker said.

“Bring Your Own Device is something we continue to work on as a legal issue,” Baker said.

While the current devices in use are mostly iOS-based from Apple, the VA intends to remain device-agnostic and potentially would include Androids and other devices in the rollout, Baker said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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